Cheektowaga, NY—Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) held a nurses’ roundtable in honor of National Nurses Week. Congressman Higgins was joined by nurses from Erie County, and listened as they spoke to him about their work to improve health care in Western New York, and the diverse ways in which they are meeting the expanding health care needs of American society.
“Erie County nurses play a critical role in the life and health of Western New Yorkers,” said Congressman Higgins. “It is more than appropriate that their tireless work be specifically recognized during National Nurses Week, and I promise that my fight for them in Congress extends past this week. There are too many ways that our nurses are shortchanged by the federal government, and I plan to work to make sure that they receive the attention, care and support from Congress that they so selflessly give to all of us.”
In Congress, Congressman Higgins is working to help nurses and the general health care of the public, and is supportive of legislation that would affect the over 17,450 registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurse practitioners in Erie County. In order to meet the growing demand for nursing services, Congressman Higgins believes that Congress must invest in nursing workforce development programs, which is why he supports increased funding for Title VIII, Public Health Service Act. More funding would help attract more students into nursing programs, improve the workplace for nursing, support schools of nursing to provide faculty and updated curricula, recruit a more diverse student population, provide assistance to students to enable them to complete nursing studies, and ensure the collection and analysis of current nursing workforce data to guide the appropriate implementation of these programs.
Congressman Higgins is also a cosponsor of the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act (H.R.791), which sets limits on mandatory overtime for nurses. “The medical profession is experiencing a shortage of qualified nurses that is imposing a significant burden on health care providers,” said Congressman Higgins. “The nurses we do have are being overworked by hospitals that require nurses to work mandatory overtime to fill the void; as a result patients are not receiving the quality care that they deserve. Nurses should not be forced to work in excess of the scheduled work shift or duty period.”
In April, 2004 the Department of Labor revised the Fair Labor Standards Act with a rule that negatively affects the ability of registered nurses to receive overtime pay. The rule redefines which workers are eligible for overtime pay and disqualifies many nurses from receiving those benefits.
Congressman Higgins opposes this rule change and will join the nurses to fight to ensure they can receive overtime pay.